Call to Tennessee Legislators 

Who to Contact

More info on legislators here capitol.tn.gov/legislators

Brenda Gilmore (Senator)

(615) 741-2453

sen.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov

Harold Love Jr. (House Rep)

(615) 741-3831

rep.harold.love@capitol.tn.gov

Kyonztè Toombs (Councilwoman)

Office phone: (615) 432-1302

Other phone: (615) 601-5127

toombsfortwo@gmail.com

What

Contact local Tennessee legislation on behalf of Save Watkins with a request to: 

1. Pressure the Watkins Board of Directors and Commissioners to “press pause” on the Watkins/Belmont deal.

a. Why? Save Watkins has called for a "pause and reboot" on the Belmont deal, which has not been finalized. SACSCOC has not approved the proposed “merger” accreditation. We are demanding that all options be considered or reconsidered, in a transparent, inclusive, and equitable process. This would include inviting other potential partner Universities to the table, such as TSU, Fisk, or MTSU. These institutions were excluded from the secret negotiations that led to the offer to Belmont.

b. If given more time, what will Save Watkins do?

i. Save Watkins coalition envisions an art school for Nashville that is transparent, supportive of expressive freedom, open to those in need, and that directly serves the  Nashville community. The manifestation of our community vision is dependent upon funding, and is derived into three strategic plans based upon funding and circumstances:

ii. Plan A: Watkins, Independent - All fundraising will serve our mission of preserving Watkins as an independent center of learning with a long-term goal of restoring the school to its original vision of a community-oriented, affordable education while reimagining its current offerings. Our independence will contribute to preserving an inclusive community and offering space for personal and artistic freedom and experimentation in Tennessee. 

iii. Plan B: Watkins, Partnered | Intact - In the case of a merger, all proceeds will subsidize a merger to support the operational funds of the institution, providing that the Watkins curriculum, current campus (the building and equipment) and its faculty and staff are preserved. 

iv. Plan C: Samuel Watkins Scholarship Fund - In the event that a merger does not successfully fulfill Plan B, and it is impossible to preserve Watkins as an independent school, all donations will be used to form a private scholarship fund charged with the task to create funding opportunities that support students in need in Tennessee wishing to pursue the creative arts.

2. Ask for legislators to request deal transparency

a. Offer them insight into the real story.

Resources for you

Email Template to Legislators

Dear (Name),

 

On behalf of Save Watkins, I am writing to you with some urgency. As you may know, on January 28, 2020, Watkins College of Art and Belmont University jointly announced that Watkins' assets would be acquired by Belmont. The notice came as a complete shock to the Watkins students, faculty, staff and alumni. Despite our significant efforts via an online petition, countless calls, protests and emails to the Watkins Board of Directors for transparency, the preservation of Sam Watkins’ will and a “pause” on the Watkins/Belmont deal, our voices are not being heard. 

 

So, as our local legislator, I ask that you help us preserve the 135-year independent history of Watkins College by asking the Watkins Board to provide full transparency on the deal and to “press pause.” Allowing Save Watkins to pursue a more amenable outcome that benefits not only the Watkins community but the North Nashville community at large.

 

The Watkins Board can be contacted as follows:

Steve Sirls, chairman, trustee: stevesirls@gmail.com, ssirls@watkins.edu

Susan A. Basham, commissioner: sbasham@bellsouth.net, newpennyantiques@aol.com, (615) 519-1432

James H. Clayton III, commissioner: Jim.Clayton@infoworks-tn.com

Walter Knestrick, commissioner: walter.knestrick@gmail.com, walterknestrick@yahoo.com, (615) 969-3532

 

Thank you for your time and support,

(Your Name)

(Your Watkins Affiliation)

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